Actor Gary Sinise was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Patriot Award at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

Comment by Jim Campbell

September 7th, 2021

”As you all may know, not all heroes are made on the battlefield,” actor Joe Mantegna said at the Feb. 5 event.

”All I can tell you is knowing this man for as long as I have, for 40 years, his status as a patriot is only equaled by his status as a husband, as a father and as a friend.

‘Therefore, it really is my pleasure and privilege to award the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Patriot Award to my friend, Gary Sinise.”

Teary-eyed and enthusiastic, Sinise shook the hand of Medal of Honor recipient Drew D. Dix and accepted the award for nearly four decades of work helping service members, veterans, first responders and their families.

”To receive this award from them is very special,” he said. I’ve been involved with the society for many years going back to 2007, and I’ve done many events with them.

I’ve made such good friends amongst this incredible group of people and to have them acknowledge me is just a great, great honor.”

Sinise began his work as an advocate of service members in the early 1980s, supporting Vietnam veteran groups and creating Vets Night, a program offering free dinners and performances to veterans.

Apart from a few dates when the entire ensemble performed, the troupe split into smaller groups to maximize their outreach to the service personnel who Lt Dan described as “hungry for contact from the States.” 

Some of the shows were staged on the decks of the Navy aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower and the guided missile cruiser USS Vicksburg, both on duty in the Persian Gulf.

“It was hard, tedious work, and long, grueling days for us,” Senise recalled, “but it’s hardly a sacrifice given the opportunity we had to show our admiration and give something back to those who fight to defend our freedoms.”

Continuing to the 1990s in support of the Disabled American Veterans organization, he raised awareness and support for wounded service members.

Since the attacks of 9/11, his dedication to those who have served became a crusade of gratitude.

Sinise’s portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the award-winning film ”Forrest Gump” further strengthened his connection with the military community.

After several USO handshake tours, Sinise formed the Lt. Dan Band in 2003 and began touring to entertain troops in early 2004.

Since then, the band has performed hundreds of concerts on military bases and for charities and fundraisers in support of wounded heroes, Gold Star families, veterans and troops around the world.

He also formed a foundation to expand his individual efforts and is a spokesman and board member for various organizations that support veterans, service members and their families.

Congressional Medal of Honor Society officials said the Patriot Award is bestowed upon individuals who possess the highest ethics and selfless dedication in the demonstration of the six values embodied by the Medal of Honor: courage, sacrifice, commitment, integrity, citizenship and patriotism.

Every year, the society honors Americans who have distinguished themselves through a lifetime of work upholding these ideals. It is the highest civilian award the society grants.

(Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Leon Wong is assigned to the American Forces Network Broadcast Center.)


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